Reese on his LBs: 'we've got to be tough guys'

Along with his defensive coordinator duties, <B>Carl</B> <B>Reese</B> also coaches the Longhorn linebackers. His starting 'backers are a veteran bunch -- four seniors fighting for the three starting spots -- but behind the vets are a group of inexperienced young guys that Reese, because of depth issues, expects to throw into the on-the-field fire this fall. And the coach is already projecting one of his true freshmen to step in and contribute.

After we talked Monday morning, the coach implemented for Monday's evening practice some of the moves he talked about in our conversation, particularly Austin Sendlein to DT and Aurmon Satchell to MLB, but he addressed his rationale behind those (at the time) future moves in our talk.

Here's that conversation with Reese:

IT: What have you seen so far from your young linebackers?

Reese: Taking Reed Boyd and Marcus Wilkins and putting 'em at end really made us thin at linebacker but it did open the door to Derrick Johnson and Braden Johnson. It gives those two kids an opportunity during two-a-days to show us what they can do and Derrick Johnson has had a great camp. The guy was well-coached in high school, he's a good football player, he's a good tackler and, if he keeps maturing, he's gonna play this year and help us win because he can play in space. Aurmon Satchell is getting to play a lot and move around. Rashad Thomas is getting to play a lot. In a way it's good. Those guys are going to have to play linebacker next year. Ol' D.D. Lewis and Tyrone Jones and Lee Jackson and Everick Rawls, they know how to play and I'm trying to get them some work but I'm trying to get those young guys (out on the field). Right now, Derrick Johnson will be a guy that steps in and helps us.

IT: You have Derrick Johnson at the WILL spot. Satchell played WILL in spring . . .

Reese: Since we've been here for two-a-days, (Satchell) has been at WILL for two practices and now he's at SAM. He's a good athlete. He will do what Marcus Wilkins can do for us. If we needed a linebacker (at any spot), I can always pull Marcus Wilkins back and train him in two days to be at that position.

IT: Wilkins can play any of the three linebacker spots. Is Satchell a guy you want to put in that same role?

Reese: Yes.

IT: What about Sendlein in the middle. He's such a big guy, is he a candidate for a spin down or does he stay in the middle?

Reese: I think he's a guy that you look at and you look at that body and he would be our first candidate to go to end and he might jump to tackle. He's our No. 1 candidate to put his hand on the ground.

IT: What does he bring to the middle linebacker spot?

Reese: He's doing a lot of what we call a mug technique. He's in the line, dropping or coming where the QB doesn't know if he is a rusher of if he's a cover guy. And that's what we're trying to get out of the MIKE position, trying to trick the quarterback a little bit.

Question: What would have to happen for Sendlein to be moved to the line?

Reese: If I can get a young guy like Satchell who is a better athlete to learn that position. Our problem is really at tackle. We've still got depth problems and developmental problems and health problems and we can see ourselves doing some things and we're looking for another guy. . . . Our experiment in the middle of last spring moving Maurice Gordon to tackle, that could have been the best thing that happened to us because of our team need at tackle. He's a live round in there. He's got a good, quick first step and he makes things happen and I can see him fighting and scratching and being a starter for us. You go back to (offenses) spreading the field, (in Gordon) you've really got a linebacker playing tackle who can cover, who can run, who can do things in space so that's kinda where we're headed.

IT: Can Gordon provide depth at end if needed?

Reese: No. That's why we moved two linebackers there because we couldn't afford to lose him at the tackle position. He's locked in there. I think in modern football where teams spread the field, (DTs) need to be about 260. They've got to play in space.

IT: Is there a concern when you play the teams that want to pound the ball with the running game that a guy like Gordon is too small?

Reese: That's why you've also got to have big ol' tackles like (Marcus) Tubbs and (Stevie) Lee and (DEs like) Cory Redding and Kalen (Thornton). You've got to have a solid front four and you've got to have big ol' linebackers, you've got to match that (power game). But when they spread it, you've got to be able to spread it with them and get your lighter guys out there.

IT: Are you going to play the back-up LBs a lot this year, maybe more so than normal, because you lose so many veterans after this season?

Reese: I'm going to try to.

IT: Will it be a similar rotation to last year with Reed Boyd and O.J. McClintock coming off the bench for 15-plus snaps a game?

Reese: I think so. Even more. The more they can do the more we'll play them because those other guys are going to be gone and we'll need somebody to step in with some experience.

IT: You mentioned in spring that you want your backers to be more physical than they have been in the past. Are you seeing that so far this fall?

Reese: Tyrone Jones is more physical than he's ever been. Lee Jackson gets to play No. 1 because he was physical in two straight practices and it's a day-by-day thing. And I think Everick Rawls has shown good toughness. That's been our problem; we're good athletes but we've got to be tough guys.

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